Joshua Roll

Cod. Vat. Ms. Pal. graec. 431 - Array (Vatican City, State of the Vatican City)

Alternate Titles:

Josua-Rolle

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Codiology

Alternate Titles

Josua-Rolle

Type
Extent / Format

15 segments of scrolls / 80.0 x 32.0 cm (total length: 10.6 metres)

Origin
Date
1789-1790
Style
Genre
Language
Artist / School

Macedonian Renaissance

Short description

Originating from a time of Byzantine military resurgence and the so-called Macedonian Renaissance, the Joshua Roll is a gem of the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana in Rome. Executed in two or three stages in the 10th century by artists of the Imperial School, the Joshua Roll is absolutely unique and unrivalled in the whole world. The work reflects the artisic flowering of 10th century Byzantium, and may have been created in celebration of a string of military successes that brought the Holy Land back under the rule of the Byzantines. It presents the Old Testament Book of Joshua in an illustrated cycle resembling a frieze, executed in grisaille painting.

Facsimile editions available

Description

One of a Kind Byzantine Art of the Royal Court in Scroll Form

One of the most magnificent surviving manuscripts of the Imperial Court School of Byzantium is the Joshua Roll now kept in the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana in Rome. It was made in the 10th century, at the time of the so-called Macedonian Renaissance, and presents the Old Testament Book of Joshua in an illustrated cycle resembling a frieze, executed in grisaille painting. These illustrated book rolls could well have been derived from classical triumph columns whose artistic contents were rediscovered at the time when our manuscript was made. The Joshua Roll is generally thought to go back to Greco-Roman forms and painting. It was executed in two or three stages in the 10th century by artists of the Imperial School who worked in a team and bestowed to it the appearance that we know today. Both the drawings and paintings contained in the book are the work of various hands, and we may rightly assume that the coloring was added at a later stage. The text is a mixture of Greek majuscule and minuscule forms, containing extracts from relevant Bible scenes as well as some additions to ensure a better understanding of the individual episodes.

An Exceptional Deluxe Manuscript

The Joshua Roll is absolutely unique and unrivalled in the whole world. Although little is known about the occasion for which this monumental manuscript of the Old Testament Book of Joshua was made, it seems likely that the codex was intended to glorify the military success of the Byzantine people in the Holy Land. For the first time after an extended period of defense, they were finally able to reassert themselves against the Arabs in the 10th century.
Although a small part is missing at the beginning of the Book of Joshua, the central piece of this sixth book of the Old Testament – according to the current counting method – has survived in a complete and full version. Its Greek Bible texts correspond to the Septuagint.

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